Paul Glaviano Paints Landscapes Unlike Others

The Alameda artists wants viewers to see with their senses.


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Photo by Lance Yamamoto

Paul Glaviano paints landscapes, but they don't look like what you would expect.

The paintings of Alameda artist Paul Glaviano bear witness to and remind viewers of the ever-changing landscape. Depicted from memory as personal experience or metaphorical interpretation, Glaviano reflects a deep-felt resonance with his environment.

His works, the artist said, are born out of the great tradition of landscape painting as referenced in 1598 when the methods were pioneered in the Netherlands and adopted by artists of the late 15th century such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer.

Glaviano follows in this tradition, he said, by creating paintings that are direct, organically conceived, synesthetic experiences. Yet there is a departure from tradition as he explores landscapes amid catastrophic change from the effects of natural and man-made disasters. With series titles such as Tsunamis, Earthquakes, War and Flint Michigan Water Crisis, his works depict an earth in upheaval and beckon the viewer to consider vulnerability, change, and consequence.

Glaviano was born and raised in San Jose and began his art studies at West Valley Junior College in Saratoga before moving to San Francisco in 1987. Earning both a BFA (1989) and MFA (2004) in painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, Glaviano studied with Julius Hatofsky, Sam Tchakalian, Carlos Villa, Richard Berger, and Bruce McGaw.

“My paintings reflect my unique vision of the world. They mirror and mediate my struggle toward higher levels of cognition, communication, and humanitarianism,” Glaviano said.

Glaviano moved to Alameda in 1999 where he has lived ever since. From his home studio on the East End, Glaviano works quickly and decisively, using traditional oil paint and mediums on panel and stretched canvas that range from 6 inches by 8 inches to 8 feet by 8 feet. With bold colors and brush treatment, his landscapes evoke the internal, emotional qualities of his subject matter.

“I strive to make beautiful images [that] also provoke the viewer to see and learn about larger ideas on contemporary issues and crises related to the environment,” he said.

For example, a recent series of charcoal drawings explore the tragedy of the Camp Fire, which obliterated Paradise in November 2018. These drawings may later become oil paintings to add to his California Burning series that chronicles other devastated burn areas in California.

His paintings also dig deep into the spiritual aspects of the land, with explorations in surface and the subterranean as well as studies of sea and sky. In his High Sierra series, for example, abstract shapes merge with bright layers of color to capture the strength and power of place.

Having traveled extensively in Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, and Mexico, Glaviano seeks common ground, alignment of causation in devastation, and shared susceptibility to change in the global landscape. Simultaneously, his connection to his own sense of place in the local landscape acts as a foothold for his work.

Apart from being a painter, Glaviano is executive chef at Oakmont of Cardinal Point, a retirement community at Mariner Square in Alameda. He is the founding art teacher at the Academy of Thought and Industry in San Francisco where he continues to teach. Having learned through his own discovery, he approaches teaching through the Socratic method of critical thinking, questioning, and forming hypothesis, he said. He has also taught art in schools in Alameda and at the San Francisco Art Institute and has curated numerous shows around the Bay Area.

The artist is also a jazz musician who performs on flute and percussion with the Runecatchers, a collective that blends original recited poetry with musical accompaniment that draws heavily on jazz and classical sources.

He has exhibited his paintings since 1988 in solo and group exhibitions around California. He will be showing his work on Aug. 18 at the Tahoe Pourhouse in South Lake Tahoe and at EDG Design Studio in Novato, opening on Monday, Aug. 26. For more information, visit his website, PaulGlaviano.com.

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